A committee of faculty, staff and students has selected Enrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario as the first-year summer reading book for the 2011-2012 academic year. Next year's first-year students will read the book as one of their first academic experiences at Saint Louis University.
The first-year summer reading program goals include providing a shared intellectual experience that prepares incoming students to engage in discussion on various levels on an ongoing basis; addressing questions and life issues being faced by incoming students; either implicitly or explicitly introducing students to academic life and the uniqueness of Jesuit higher education, reflective of the mission of Saint Louis University; and providing opportunities for incoming students to create dialogue with each other, faculty and staff on campus. The author will visit campus during the fall semester.
Students will receive a copy of the book during SLU 101 summer orientation and will be asked to read the book over the summer prior to Welcome Week. During Welcome Week, they will participate in a program focusing on the theme of the book and they will also have the opportunity to interact in small group discussions led by University faculty and staff to discuss the reading. A call for faculty/staff discussion leaders will be announced in the spring. Anyone interested in becoming more involved in the first-year summer reading program is invited to become a book discussion leader.
Faculty and staff are encouraged to review a copy of the book this semester to determine how to integrate the text into academic curriculum and other programs as appropriate. A limited number of books are currently available. A form is available online for employees interested in receiving a free copy of the book.
For more information, visit the First-Year Summer Reading Program website.
About the Book
In this astonishing true story, award-winning journalist Sonia Nazario recounts the unforgettable odyssey of a Honduran boy who braves unimaginable hardship and peril to reach his mother in the United States.
When Enrique is five years old, his mother, Lourdes, too poor to feed her children, leaves Honduras to work in the United States. The move allows her to send money back home to Enrique so he can eat better and go to school past the third grade. Lourdes promises Enrique she will return quickly, but she struggles in America. Years pass. He begs for his mother to come back. Without her, he becomes lonely and troubled. When she calls, Lourdes tells him to be patient. Enrique despairs of ever seeing her again.
After eleven years apart, he decides he will go find her. Enrique sets off alone from Tegucigalpa, with little more than a slip of paper bearing his mother's North Carolina telephone number. Without money, he will make the dangerous and illegal trek up the length of Mexico the only way he can: Clinging to the sides and tops of freight trains.
With gritty determination and a deep longing to be by his mother's side, Enrique travels through hostile, unknown worlds. Each step of the way through Mexico, he and other migrants, many of them children, are hunted like animals. Gangsters control the tops of the trains. Bandits rob and kill migrants up and down the tracks. Corrupt cops all along the route are out to fleece and deport them. To evade Mexican police and immigration authorities, they must jump onto and off the moving boxcars they call El Tren de la Muerte, The Train of Death.
Enrique pushes forward using his wit, courage, hope and the kindness of strangers. It is an epic journey, one that thousands of immigrant children make each year to find their mothers in the United States.
Based on the Los Angeles Times newspaper series that won two Pulitzer Prizes, one for feature writing and another for feature photography, Enrique's Journey is the timeless story of families torn apart, the yearning to be together again, and a boy who will risk his life to find the mother he loves.
About the Author
Sonia Nazario has spent 20 years reporting and writing about social issues, most recently as a projects reporter for the Los Angeles Times. Her stories have tackled some of this country's most intractable problems: Hunger, drug addiction, immigration and the like.
She has won numerous national journalism and book awards. In 2003, her story of a Honduran boy's struggle to find his mother in the States, titled "Enrique's Journey," won more than a dozen awards, among them the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing, the George Polk Award for International Reporting, the Grand Prize of the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Guillermo Martinez-Marquez Award for Overall Excellence.
Expanded into a book, Enrique's Journey became a national bestseller and won two book awards. It is now required reading for incoming freshmen at dozens of colleges and high schools across the U.S.
In 1998, Nazario was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for a series on children of drug addicted parents. And in 1994, she won a George Polk Award for Local Reporting for a series about hunger among schoolchildren in California.
Nazario has been named among the most influential Latinos by Hispanic Business Magazine and a "trendsetter" by Hispanic Magazine.
Nazario, who grew up in Kansas and in Argentina, has written extensively from Latin America and about Latinos in the United States. She is now at work on her second book.
She began her career at the Wall Street Journal, where she reported from four bureaus: New York, Atlanta, Miami and Los Angeles. In 1993, she joined the Los Angeles Times.
She serves on the advisory boards of the University of North Texas Mayborn Literary Non-fiction Writer's Conference and of Catch the Next, a non-profit working to double the number of Latinos enrolling in college. She is also on the board of Kids In Need of Defense, a non-profit launched by Microsoft and Angelina Jolie to provide pro-bono attorneys to unaccompanied immigrant children.
She is a graduate of Williams College and has a master's degree in Latin American studies from the University of California, Berkeley. In 2010, Nazario received an honorary doctorate from Mount St. Mary's College.